Quote of the Week: Einstein on Education

by Anna Blanch on February 9, 2009

My dear children, I rejoice to see you before me today, happy youth of a sunny and fortunate land. Bear in mind that the wonderful things that you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labour in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honour it, and add to it, and one day faithfully hand it on to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common. If you always keep that in mind you will find meaning in life and work and acquire the right attitude towards other nations and ages. Albert Einstein talking to a group of school children (1934)

I believe, indeed, that overemphasis on the purely intellectual attitude, often directed solely to the practical and factual, in our education, has led directly to the impairment of ethical values. I am not thinking so much of the dangers with which technical progress has directly confronted mankind, as of the stifling of mutual human considerations by a ‘matter-of-fact’ habit of thought which has come to lie like a killing frost upon human relations. Without ‘ethical culture’ there is no salvation for humanity. – Einstein, (1953)

These quotes align with the discussions I have been having recently about the purpose and end point of the labours of teaching. I find Einstein’s words encouraging, although i am not sure that i agree that education offers “salvation for humanity.”

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